To get the most out of your MBA experience it’s important select target business schools that are a good fit for you based on your professional goals and personality. I can’t stress this enough – don’t pick your target list of business schools merely based on MBA rankings published by the likes of the Economist or US News. Instead, research potential schools by networking with students, alumni and admissions, and if possible attend admission events and visit campuses to get an inside view of business school communities. Then create your own MBA rankings based on your research and what is important to you.
Factors to Consider
- Academics: What classes/electives would you like to take? How rigorous would you like the academics to be? Would you like to study under a specific professor or specialise in a particular field?
- Grade Policy: Would you thrive in a collaborative environment with grade non-disclosure or a more competitive environment where grade disclosure?
- Program Length: How long would you like to study for? Would you like to study full-time or part-time? Would you like to complete an internship?
- Program Flexibility: Would you like to design your own course program or follow a standard core/elective setup?
- Community: What type of community would you like to be a part of: academic, entrepreneurial, collaborative, supportive, fun, social, international?
- Location: City or town? Close to the tech hub of Silicon Valley or the financial markets on Wall Street? US or international? Would you like to be close to family, friends or partners?
- Class Size: A small close-nit class (100 – 200 students) or a larger student body (500 – 1000 students)?
- Campus: What facilities are available on campus? Would you like the business school to be integrated with the main university?
- Network: How large is the network? Where is the network located and what industries do they work in?
- Funding: What financial support and scholarships are available?
- International Opportunities: Do you want to complete an international exchange program or a trek to a foreign country?
- Recruitment: What recruiters come to campus? What career services support is available?
To give you a personal touch, let me breakdown the main reasons why I chose to apply to Chicago Booth.
- Academics: the MBA program is rigorous, flexible and includes a wide variety of quantitative/finance electives.
- Grade Policy: Booth’s policy of grade non-disclosure (or GND as it is colloquially called on campus) creates a collaborative environment where anyone can challenge themselves by taking new or difficult classes without any repercussions.
- Community/Environment: Chicago is hands down one of my favourite cities (even with the extreme winters!), the campus is fantastic, and most importantly I really liked the students and alumni that I networked with.
When you make your target business school list don’t be scared to deviate from common MBA rankings. If you target schools that match what's important to you I'm certain you will have a high admission success rate and an amazing MBA experience.